A mashrabiya (Arabic: مشربية‎), also either shanshūl (شنشول) or rūshān (روشان), is a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second story of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The mashrabiya is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the Middle Ages up to the mid-20th century. It is mostly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side.

Mashrabiyas were mostly used in houses and palaces although sometimes in public buildings such as hospitals, inns, schools and government buildings. They are found mostly in the Mashriq – i.e. the eastern part of the Arab world, but some types of similar windows are also found in the Maghreb (the western part of the Arab world). They are very prevalent in Iraq, the Levant, Hejaz and Egypt. They are mostly found in urban settings and rarely in rural areas. Basra is often called “the city of Shanasheel”. The style may be informally known as a “harem window” in English.

Mashrabiya is derived from the triliteral root Š-R-B, which generally denotes drinking or absorbing. There are two theories for its name.

The more common theory is that the name was originally for a small wooden shelf where the drinking water pots were stored. The shelf was enclosed by wood and located at the window in order to keep the water cool. Later on, this shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure and retained the name despite the radical change in use.

The less common theory is that the name was originally mashrafiya, derived from the verb shrafa, meaning to overlook or to observe. During the centuries, the name slowly changed because of sound change and the influence of other languages.

The date of their origin is unknown; however, the earliest evidence of the mashrabiya in its current form dates back to the 12th century in Baghdad, during the Abbasid period. Whatever is left in Arabic cities was mostly built during the late 19th century and early-to-mid-20th century, but some mashrabiyas are three to four hundred years old.

In Iraq during the 1920s and 1930s, the designs of the latticework were influenced by the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements of the time. That was evident in Al Rasheed street mashrabiyas until the late 1960s, when most of them were demolished.

Mashrabiya and Desert Climate
Mashrabiya and desert climate are inextricably linked. The desert heat from the northern desert of Egypt through the Arabian Peninsula and ending in Iraq are all of a climatic nature, characterized by extreme heat and extreme drought. In these difficult climatic conditions, man has to develop his way of building so as to provide the appropriate internal environment for life and carry out his activities in isolation from the hot desert environment. The traditional desert architecture developed innovative solutions that dealt with various environmental factors to achieve the best living conditions within the architectural vacuum, when the inhabitants of these deserts learned how to exploit the energy available in their local environment. They introduced patterns and architectural elements that enriched social life alongside its functional efficiency. It may be difficult to understand the work of Mashrabiya in isolation from the construction as a whole. Therefore, it is necessary to refer to the method of desert construction. The thick mud walls were used in the construction, which in turn served as a thermal store that absorbs extreme heat during the day and prevents them from reaching the rooms. Of heat exchange between home and abroad is very hot. These thick walls get rid of the heat they have earned all night long, as the desert night is seldom cold. The ventilation holes in these thick walls were like small holes, which worked alongside air intake and high ceilings to ventilate and cool the rooms by pushing hot air to the top and getting it out. But the system was not sufficiently integrated, since the small openings were not enough to light the rooms, resulting in dark architectural spaces that were not connected to the urban vacuum outside or even to neighboring houses. Mashrabiya provided the solution to these problems, as it enters large amounts of indirect light, and prevents direct solar radiation , accompanied by high temperatures of entry through the openings, and thus provided Mashrabiya lighting with high efficiency without increasing the temperature inside, Wall, Mashrabiya has contributed to increase air flow by high, thus increasing the ventilation and cooling of the rooms. The splendor of this architectural element lies in the integration of its function with its social and aesthetic value. Mashrabiyat added aesthetic value to the street overlooking the windows without compromising the privacy of the architectural spaces behind these shrines.

The Evolution of Mishrabiyat
Due to the nature of the ever-changing architecture, it is difficult to determine the exact time of Mashrabiya. However, it can be ascertained that the development and improvement of its performance did not stop for hundreds of years. Mashrabiya spread in the Abbasid period (750-1258) and was used in palaces, (1805-1517) when it reached its most famous and spread almost completely in Iraq, Syria , Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula because its use in various buildings proved very effective in reaching a comfortable and effective internal environment despite the circumstances External stiff the heat. It is important to realize that with the spread of mashrabiyat in the Islamic and Eastern countries in general, different patterns and forms of marshals have emerged, depending on the type of wood used and the workmanship of wood crafting and assembly, but they all share one origin and one way of working. The name Mashrabiya is derived from the Arabic word “drink”, meaning “drinking place”. In the past, it was a prominent space with a slit hole where the small water tractor was placed to cool by the evaporation caused by the movement of air through the opening. This is where Mashrabiya is known by this name, as water vessels are placed in it to cool it, and to cool air passing over it.

Traditionally, houses are built of adobe, brick or stone or a combination. Wooden houses are not popular and hardly ever found. Building heights in urban setting range from two to five floors (although Yemeni houses can reach up to seven floors) with the mashrabiyas on the second level and above. The roofs are usually built using wooden or steel beams with the areas between filled with brick in a semi vault style[dubious – discuss]. These beams were extended over the street, enlarging the footprint of the upper floor. The upper floor is then enclosed with latticework and roofed with wood. The projection is cantilevered and does not bear the weight of traditional building materials.

There are different types of mashrabiyas, and the latticework designs differ from region to region. Most mashrabiyas are closed where the latticework is lined with stained glass and part of the mashrabiya is designed to be opened like a window, often sliding windows to save space; in this case the area contained is part of the upper floor rooms hence enlarging the floor plan. Some mashrabiyas are open and not lined with glass; the mashrabiya functions as a balcony and the space enclosed is independent of the upper floor rooms and accessed through those rooms with windows[dubious – discuss] opening towards it. Sometimes the woodwork is reduced making the mashrabiya resemble a regular roofed balcony; this type of mashrabiya is mostly used if the house is facing an open landscape such as a river, a cliff below or simply a farm, rather than other houses.


One of the major purposes of the mashrabiya is privacy, an essential aspect of Arabic culture.:3, 5–6 A good view of the street can be obtained by the occupants without being seen.

The wooden screen with openable windows gives shade and protection from the hot summer sun, while allowing the cool air from the street to flow through. The designs of the latticework usually have smaller openings in the bottom part and larger openings in the higher parts, hence causing the draft to be fast above the head and slow in lower parts. This provides a significant amount of air moving in the room without causing it to be uncomfortable.

The projection of the mashrabiya achieves several purposes. It allows air from three sides to enter, even if the wind outside is blowing parallel to the house façade; it serves the street and in turn the neighborhood, as a row of projected mashrabiyas provides shelter for those in the streets from rain or sun. The shade in normally narrow streets will cool the air in the street and increase the pressure as opposed to the air in the sahn, which is open to the sun making it more likely that air would flow towards the sahn through the rooms of the house. The mashrabiya also provides protection and shade for the ground floor windows that are flat and usually unprotected.

One of the major architectural benefits is correcting the footprint shape of the land. Due to winding and irregular streets, plots of land are also commonly irregular in shape, while the house designs are regular squares and rectangles. This would result in irregular shapes of some rooms and create dead corners. The projection allows the shapes of the rooms on the upper floors to be corrected, and thus the entire plot of land to be utilised. It also increases the usable space without increasing the plot size.

On the street side, in addition to their ornamental advantage, mashrabiyas served to provide enclosure to the street and a stronger human scale.

Uses of Mashrabiya
In the previous section, we discussed the appearance of Mashrabiya and its use in the Arab countries in its local desert buildings. However, this historical description does not explain the practical reasons for using Mashrabiyat. To understand the uses and benefits of Mashrabiya, we used the classification of the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi as he defines it as having five functions:

Temperature adjustment
The greatest cause of high temperatures in the interior architectural spaces is the direct thermal gain from the sun, so it is advised to avoid falling rays on the windows at a large and direct fall angle, and only the less reflective glare that does not cause thermal gain inside. Since the Mashrabiya allowed the large openings in the walls (as we said earlier), it is possible for a constant stream of air to pass through its small openings into the rooms, helping the users to lose heat from their bodies through sweating. Local residents used to put pottery vessels in the marshes, allowing indoor air to lose heat by evaporating portions of drinking water at the vessel, thus introducing “relatively cold” air into the rooms.

The design of the bars and openings of the Mashrabiya in the winter allows access to the internal architectural space. These openings are designed to take into account the angles of the fall of the sun in the winter (as they are closer to the ground), thus increasing the temperature of the interior and the population feeling warm. Mashrabiya has become a critical tool, so the craftsman and architect must fully understand the Mashrabiya and its response to the sun in both seasons.

Adjust the light traffic.
The designer should choose the commas and the size of rods suitable for the grille that covers a hole in the front to meet direct solar radiation.

The gradient of the intensity of light (the gradient caused by falling on the circular bars) reduces the contrast between the non-light bars and the intensity of glare between them. Therefore, the eye of the beholder is not dazzled by this contrast between black and white, .

It is preferable that the Mashrabiya rods that are located at the human level are close to each other, to increase the refractions in the light passing through them, reduce the dazzling light from the sun and the components of the Mashrabiya, and to compensate for the lack of lighting at the lower level, prefer to increase the distance between the bars as we move up.

Air flow control
The large-clear mashrabiya provides larger spaces in the clamp, which helps to flow air inside the room. When lighting considerations require narrow openings to reduce dazzling, the airflow is significantly reduced.

This negative shortage of airflow is compensated for by larger openings between the Mashrabiya rods at the top. Here are the main parts of Mashrabiya:

– A lower part consists of a narrow bar with a fine rod.

– The upper part is made up of a wide buckle with wide wooden rods cylindrical (tank style).

If the airflow accounts remain insufficient, the negative shortfall can be compensated by opening the whole interface and then covering it with a very wide fan.

Increase the air current humidity ratio.
It is done through two methods:

A high porosity ceramic tractor is placed in the Mashrabiya. The passage of air current over these jars leads to the evaporation of amounts of water on its surface because of its high permeability, thus cooling the air current. This process is called evaporative cooling. This process does not affect the thermal content of the air, Evaporative reduces the latent heat of the air and thus increases air humidity.
All organic fibers such as wood used in marshmallows absorb and filter reasonable amounts of water easily. As long as they are not covered or painted. The air passing through the mashrabiya tree loses some of its moisture by absorbing the wooden rails if it is moderately cold, as it is at night. When the Mashrabiya is heated by direct sunlight, it loses this moisture to the air flowing through it. This technique can be used to increase dry air humidity during daytime heat, and to cool and moisten the air as often as necessary. The distance between the surfaces is increased by increasing the size of the penis leading to increased cooling and moisturization. In addition, a large rod has at the same time a larger surface area that increases its ability to absorb water vapor as well as cooling caused by water evaporation over its surface. Its water absorption capacity is greater, enabling it to continue releasing water vapor through evaporation for a longer period of time.
Providing privacy to the population.
In addition to its physical effects, Mashrabiya provides privacy to the population while allowing them to look outside. This supports the use of two-part Mashrabia, where the lower part ensures privacy, while the air flows through the top of it.

This gives the Mashrabiya a wonderful psychological dimension where the inhabitant feels that he is not separated from the outer spaces, without losing the factor of isolation, which gives the resident a feeling of reassurance.

Arabic poetry and literature
The female singers have a great influence on popular culture in Iraq and have woven many stories and poems about Mashrabiyat, most notably the story of “the love of the carpenter’s carpenter son of the neighbors.” The one-sided interface is called Schnahel and collected by Schnahelat. There are many folkloric songs that indicate:

An old house in the old part of the city of Basra, 1954 . Note being open
Fadwa for the nuns
Beware of sweet hearts
There are many laughs
Fadwa for the nuns

Another song says:
Shanashilk will regret today
The night is interrupted by sleep
But I remain concerned
Every night, the reward of sorrow

As I mentioned in some history books, such as the bright stars of a son tempting my papyrus: “In the year of forty four hundred and a black wind blew in Baghdad and darkened the world and shook the house of Roushn Caliphate.” In the wonders of the ruins of al-Jabrti: “And the army looted the house of the pasha, and the fire was burning in it, and those great buildings, palaces, councils, seats, and rouchers were burnt.”

The poet Bader Shaker al-Sayyab wrote a poem entitled “Shanashil daughter of Chalabi”.

Related Information
Basra is surrounded by Umm al-Shanashil to the great Mashrabiyat overlooking the Shatt al-Arab .
The basins on which the Mashrabiya was based in Cairo and Basra were built from wood and were built in Baghdad by the iron (I-Pim) called the “Shillman”
In the Middle Ages, the West was influenced by porcupines (in addition to other architectural elements) and built the stone porches with windows in some of their castles.
It is said that marshmallows are leftovers of the rich. He has always known the richness of homeowners from Chennai because of the abundant funds and high costs.
Some of the houses that have been built or built have been built for more than three years. It has been built on mulberry, cedar and other local wood.
Some of the marshes built in Baghdad in the 1920s and 1930s were influenced by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements, which are depicted in inscriptions and decorations.

Source From Wikipedia